Just about everyone who observes Erie County politics is asking the same question: What will Tom Reynolds do after retiring from a 35-year elective career?
At 58, the former Concord councilman, county legislator, assemblyman and congressman has lots of years ahead to participate in the political process. And those who know him and his passion for politics expect he will be involved in some way.
Reynolds' name is absent from the area's political roster for the first time in decades. And it wasn't just as an elected official that he earned his reputation -- he also helped shape the local political scene as Erie County Republican chairman.
Following stints as Assembly minority leader and a member of Congress, the Clarence resident also carved out a role as one of the statewide Republican Party's most influential members.
Reynolds doesn't worry about paying the rent as a retired congressman. He has a nice pension and health insurance, and he'll collect a Tier 1 state pension when the time comes.
But most people see him remaining in the political arena as a strategist, lobbyist or in some other capacity that sees him firmly planted in the process.
After such a long tenure in partisan politics, Reynolds has earned his share of enemies. But even his Democratic counterparts acknowledge him as a worthy opponent; one they expect to face again in some way.
What is your assessment of one of the most dominant figures of our time in local politics? Is there still a place for what he brings to the table?
Or is he part of a system that should be replaced by a new kind of politics?
-- Robert J. McCarthy